Monday, December 3, 2007

A Surprising Delight

I'm not anti-intellectual, but I never was much interested in a magazine in NPL's collection called The American Scholar.

It turns out that it's only because I never took a good look. When Nancy Osgood was in recently and mentioned the magazine, I felt my mind opening. Anything Nancy values is worth at least a try. The American Scholar, a publication of Phi Beta Kappa, turns out to be something akin to the New Yorker, only without as many cartoons.

In its pages lie superb fiction and non-fiction, by the likes of Alice Munro, John Barth, Anne Beatty, Louis Begley, and Ethan Fishman. I read wonderful poems by Louise, Gluck, Robert Pinsky, David Sofield, and John
Hollander. There are lively and fascinating articles on cell biology and religion, whether or not Alger Hiss was the spy the government said he was, the life and legacy of Ralph Ellison, and one I particularly enjoyed, "Church and State: How to Tell the Difference," which examines our forefathers' take on the First Amendment and includes a wonderful section on Roger Williams.

I suppose the title put me off initially. As it turns out, American Scholar simply appeals to the part of me that believes in lifelong learning. I'll be reading this magazine regularly from now on. The

If the authors above click with you, pick up a copy next time you're at NPL.

It's a gem.